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At the wireless speaker firm Sonos, I recently asked Sonos VP of brand and marketing Pete Pedersen to shed light on what’s been happening with Sonos’ marketing strategy.
Paul Talbot: What works beautifully and what might work better with your marketing leadership structure?
Pete Pedersen: Our marketing leadership team operates without ego or pretense. Everyone on the team is a flat-out expert in their particular field, but there is a high degree of humility, openness to new ideas and mutual respect. As a team, we operate as stewards of the brand, in service to one another. It’s an amazing group of leaders.
As Sonos scales, we’ll need to figure out how to support new lines of business and new categories. Will our current structure be appropriate, or will we need to evolve? I’m probably not the only marketing leader on the planet obsessing over this question every day.
Talbot: How do you guide the process of making necessary adjustments to your marketing strategy?
Pedersen: At a high level, we spend a considerable amount of time trying to understand what all the inputs mean. No one source gives us a complete picture of what’s happening in the marketplace, so we’re constantly synthesizing first and third-party data, consumer research, NPS (net promoter score), sales trends, retail trends, our product roadmap and of course the competitive landscape.
More tactically, Sonos is a big ‘test and learn’ culture, so we frequently experiment with new approaches. In many ways, success and failure are equally valuable outcomes.
Talbot: Sound is subjective. Unless we go the brick-and-mortar route, we can’t hear the speaker before we purchase it. How can marketing best address this?
Pedersen: Sound is obviously very important to Sonos and we apply extraordinary effort to make sure the sound experience is world class. But we also win on ease of use, premium design, our open approach to music services and most importantly the fact that Sonos is a system where everything works seamlessly together.
As marketers, our job is to bring the entire value proposition to life in a compelling way and, crucially, convey the emotional benefits as much as the rational benefits.
Talbot: What have you discovered from your partnership with Ikea, with the IKEA Symfonisk table lamp and bookshelf Wi-Fi speakers?
Pedersen: The best partnerships are always those rooted in respect, admiration and complementary skill sets. IKEA has been a terrific partner and we couldn’t be happier with the collaboration. Together we’ve pushed boundaries on form factors, materials, packaging and go to market strategies. IKEA’s massive global presence has also helped bring Sonos into many new territories where we might not have otherwise been.
Talbot: As the wireless speaker category matures, what does your research reveal about the wants and needs of consumers?
Pedersen: I think we’re a long way from category maturity! There’s a ton of innovation happening at Sonos and other companies, and I expect this category will look quite different in 5 years.
That said, one of the big trends we’re paying attention to is the explosion of high-quality streaming content: music, movies, podcasts, television shows, audiobooks and more. Consumers want this content to be easily accessible anywhere without compromising on sound quality.
Talbot: How significant is the move-up market segment and how does your marketing content engage this target?
Pedersen: Customers can start with just a single speaker and have a great experience. And when they’re ready, they can easily add more speakers to their Sonos systems over time.
We recently launched Sonos Roam, an ultra-portable speaker with a very accessible price point. We expect Roam will be the first Sonos speaker many customers own. If historical trends play out, these new customers will end up buying more Sonos in the months and years to come because the experience keeps getting better.
In FY20 repurchases accounted for 41% of our registrations, clear evidence that Sonos has become an indispensable part of our customers’ lives.
Talbot: Any other insights on the Sonos marketing strategy you’d like to share?
Pedersen: Authenticity has always been core to our culture. Sonos exists because a few hardcore music fans wanted a better way to listen. We’ve grown a lot since those early days, but the passion we share with our customers around music, movies and other forms of content hasn’t changed one bit. When we’re at our best as a Sonos marketing team, we’re focused on reflecting this shared passion in a deeply authentic way.
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